Michael Goguen


Longtime Sequoia Capital venture capitalist Michael Goguen is out of the firm following an explosive lawsuit that accuses him of “sexually, physically, and emotionally” abusing a woman for over 13 years and then refusing to pay her an agreed upon settlement in full.

Goguen, a partner at Sequoia for nearly 20 years, allegedly signed a contract agreeing to pay Amber Laurel Baptiste $40 million to drop a prospective lawsuit against him, but only paid $10 million of that sum, according to a filing in San Mateo County Superior Court earlier this week (and first highlighted by TechCrunch).

The background of the case is graphic.

According to the lawsuit filing, Baptiste had been a “victim of human trafficking” since the age of 15. The filing claims that Goguen met her at a strip club in 2001 and promised to help her “escape from the human traffickers” if “she would have sex with him.” Baptiste claims that Goguen then raped and abused her for many years, including an alleged incident where she was left “bleeding and alone on the floor of a hotel room in a foreign country.” The filing claims that in 2012 Goguen agreed to pay Baptiste’s expenses as compensation for abuse, but refused to continue the payments in mid-2013. Baptiste was then “prepared to sue Mr. Goguen,” but his attorneys instead drafted a settlement in 2014 where he agreed to pay her $40 million through four installments, the filing claims.

A Sequoia Capital representative sent Business Insider the following statement:

“We first learned of these claims on Thursday. We understand that these allegations of serious improprieties are unproven and unrelated to Sequoia. Nevertheless, we decided that Mike’s departure was the appropriate course of action.”

You can read the filing here:

In a statement provided by his attorney, Diane Doolittle, Goguen calls the allegations “horrific” and says that a cross compliant will be filed on Monday:

These horrific allegations against me come at the end of a 10+ year romantic relationship that ended badly.  Not surprisingly, the complaint is filled with every horrible buzzword you could throw at someone in today’s society to destroy their reputation.

At my direction, a cross compliant will be filed with the court first thing Monday morning alleging extortion.  It will contain an enormous amount of evidence, including messages that span years and show that she pursued me romantically and professed her love, respect and appreciation for my kind and compassionate treatment of her.    

This matter is purely personal and has no connection to Sequoia.  My departure from there allows me to focus with full force on clearing my name and vigorously pursuing justice – starting on Monday morning with the filing of my cross complaint alleging extortion.

Calls to Sequoia were not immediately returned. We will update this story when we hear back.

As reported by Business Insider